WATSONVILLE -- Winter's back.
Temperatures dropped and dark clouds gathered over Watsonville on Monday, as the weather shifted after a spring-like weekend.
Rain is on the way, confirmed forecaster Mark Strobin at the National Weather Service in Monterey, but not much.
"It's not going to be a gully washer," Strobin said, predicting less than an inch of rain this week.
Pajaro Valley strawberry grower Edward Ortega was anticipating a wetter forecast. Growers received rain late in 2012 when they needed it for fall planting, he said. He's irrigating now, though not too heavily as the relatively cool weather keeps soil from drying out too quickly, he said.
Ortega, who like most Pajaro Valley growers depends on well water, is more concerned about the long-term consequences of too little rain.
"The aquifer isn't being filled up," Ortega said. "That's (a) worry."
Strobin said light rain Tuesday will lead to a chance of showers for the rest of the week, bringing a quarter-inch of rain, maybe a third to the city of Santa Cruz. That won't be enough to make a dent in the rainfall deficit.
"So far, in Santa Cruz, Jan. 1 to Feb. 15 has been the driest on record," Strobin said.
Less than an inch of rain -- 0.93 to be exact -- has fallen since the beginning of the year. The seasonal total of 15.02 inches is well below the 21.54 inches that's normal for Santa Cruz, he said.
Still, an extremely wet December helped put Santa Cruz ahead of last year's total to date rainfall of 10.57 inches.
With nearly 35 inches to date, Ben Lomond has had more than twice as much rain as this time in 2012. It's almost at last year's seasonal total. More than 11 inches of rain have fallen on Watsonville so far this season, four inches more than by mid-February 2012.
Overall, last year was drier than normal.
Strobin said a high pressure ridge, essentially a mountain of air, in the Pacific Ocean has been pushing storms north and east of the Central Coast.
It's weakened a bit to permit a blast of colder, wetter weather from Alaska. Strobin couldn't say whether the change would last. The ridge has been "persistent," he said.
"When it gets flattened out, it just rebuilds," Strobin said.
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Seasonal Rainfall totals
Aptos 15.18 inches
Ben Lomond 34.52 inches
Santa Cruz 15.02 inches
Soquel 17.98 inches
Watsonville 11.66 inches
SOURCE: Sentinel weather watchers, National Weather Service
Santa Cruz forecast
TUESDAY: Rain/showers, 51, 41
WEDNESDAY: Chance of showers, 60, 36
THURSDAY: Chance of showers, 60, 40
FRIDAY: Chance of showers, 60, 40
SATURDAY: Chance of showers, 60, 40
Source: National Weather Service, Monterey